Loopholes in Clery Act Reporting: How ASU can skew its crime statistics!

Lengthy but good read from publicintergrity.org, in regard to campus police department’s abilities to skew sexual assault data through Clery Act loopholes.

The Clery Act requires some 7,500 colleges and universities — nearly 4,000 of which are four-year public and private institutions — to disclose statistics about crime on or near their campuses in annual security reports.

Many provisions have evolved since the law passed 19 years ago, but what hasn’t changed is Clery’s requirement that schools poll a wide range of “campus security authorities” when gathering data. That designation includes a broad array of campus programs, departments, and centers, such as student health centers, women’s centers, and even counseling centers. The designation also applies to officials who supervise students — deans, coaches, housing directors, judicial affairs officers, to name a few.

In theory, those stipulations should make for comprehensive crime reporting.

But the data gathering isn’t always meticulous. In fact, a 2002 study funded by the U.S. Department of Justice found that “only 36.5 percent of schools reported crime statistics in a manner that was fully consistent with the Clery Act.” A Center examination of 10 years worth of complaints filed against institutions under Clery shows that the most common problem is that schools are not properly collecting data. Some submit only reports from law-enforcement officials. In August 2004, Yale University became the subject of a complaint after it was discovered to be doing just that. Five years later, the U.S. Department of Education has yet to finish its review; a department spokesperson declined to comment on the pending inquiry.

Other schools submit inaccurate sexual assault statistics — in some cases inadvertently; in others cases, intentionally. Nearly half of the 25 Clery complaint investigations conducted by the Education Department over the past decade determined that schools were omitting sexual offenses collected by some sources or failing to report them at all. In October 2007, the department fined LaSalle University, in Philadelphia, $110,000 for not reporting 28 crimes, including a small number of sexual assaults.

There’s also been misclassification of sexual assaults. Schools can wrongly categorize reports of acquaintance rape or fondling as “non-forcible” sexual offenses — a definition that should only apply to incest and statutory rape. Five of the 25 Clery audits found schools were miscoding forcible rapes as non-forcible instead. In June 2008, Eastern Michigan University agreed to pay the department $350,000 — the largest Clery fine ever — for a host of violations, including miscoding rapes.

Another limitation of the Clery Act: it counts only those crimes occurring on or near campuses, and in school-affiliated buildings like fraternity houses. The initial thinking behind this narrow geographic focus was that off-campus crimes would inevitably be documented by local police, experts say. But that means that Clery statistics don’t include such settings as off-campus apartments, where most campus-related rapes are believed to take place. Last year, Jacqui Pequignot, who heads the victim advocate program at Florida State, recorded just nine sexual offenses on or near campus, as compared to 48 off campus. Pequignot, who estimates that 36,000 of FSU’s 42,000 students live in apartments more than a block from the university, notes that critics often suspect misreporting whenever they don’t see huge numbers of campus sexual assaults. “But sometimes,” she says, “it’s really just about the fact that the numbers are greater off campus.”

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5 thoughts on “Loopholes in Clery Act Reporting: How ASU can skew its crime statistics!

  1. QuickCallTempe! says:

    Everybody here knows ASUPD and the University is doing everything possible to falsely keep CLERY statistics as low as possible with a whole host of unethical, misleading, and some outright illegal means.

    Are they adding in crimes involving ASU students in the nearby patrol areas of Tempe? Are they reporting crimes for what they are and not shifting the stat and reporting it as something else?

    I would venture a comparison to a university of similar size might just show where the numbers are being manipulated. We have a police department that fields one or two officers for a campus. We are supposed to be proactive and like look for crime. Most of the time we are too busy responding to dispatched traffic without the expectation of backup unless some police aides show up.

    Until a crisis happens and the state gets its ass sued off for 10’s of millions the Arizona State University Police Department will be the last priority of the University. The PD will continue to be the laughing stock of valley law enforcement, understaffed, underpaid, and a slap in the face to the public up to their ass in debt to fund more government waste without result.

  2. ASUPDsmokeNmirrors says:

    An audit on ASUPD needs to be done by the FEDS, so the misreporting, stat shifting can stop. ASU hired a police chief whose former department was raided by the FEDS for wrongdoing and the trend continues at the Arizona State University to this day. Without any checks and balances people get away with wrongdoing and that’s the problem, the ASU Police Department has no oversight to speak of.

    The public trust is undermined by a shroud of secrecy, out of court settlements, the misreporting of statistics, officials telling lie after lie to the news, and public apathy until their child becomes a stat.

    I know this isn’t an original idea, but I have to mention it. The state legislature, the governor, should look at the mismanagement of the state’s largest university, particularly the police department in the same way they looked at Capitol Police. It hasn’t worked effectively for years. More government waste? Scrap it.

  3. Thinblueline1 says:

    It would be interesting to see the results of a professional audit and comparison to similar sized campuses who follows the law. The truth might be scary, time for more smoke and mirrors!

  4. […] have very briefly scratched the surface of issues (in previous posts here and here) regarding ASU’s compliance with the Clery Act. We’ve looked at specific cases where […]

  5. […] We initially wrote about how easy it was for ASUPD to skew its crime statistics in October 2013, just after ASUPD released its 2012 crime statistics (here and here). […]

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